Having passed the colourful, retro sci-fi themed façade of Atomic Burger on many a G&Ds or 02 Academy trip, Atomic Burger has long been a source of meaty temptation, beckoning me in with its promise of big burgers, bigger milkshakes and an endless, and amazing, 80s-90s soundtrack. Mired in the pre-5th week blues last week, I was excited to get away from college, get a break from hall food, and see if Atomic Burger was worth the hype which I had so often heard from friends living out in Cowley,
Visiting the restaurant, a few minutes’ walk along from Magdalen Bridge in Cowley, last weekend, definitely lived up to all my culinary and aesthetic expectations. Themed like a cross between the Toy Story Pizza Planet scene and a Dr Who enthusiast living room, the décor and atmosphere are really part of the experience. Daleks, deathstars and puppet versions of the cast of Rainbow all lined the walls and gave the place a quirky, friendly feel. The menu is also delightfully imaginative, dedicating their fare mainly to much loved 20th century pop culture figures: The Dead Elvis, The Audrey Hepburn, The Chuck Norris (containing copious amounts of BBQ pulled pork) and so on. The mustard and ketchup, homemade, came in cute yellow and red dispensers, adding a touch of neo-1950s diner feel to the experience. The chili sauce also came highly recommended.
In terms of service, the whole experience was excellent. Our servers were chatty and welcoming, and humorously explained the specials, which led me to ordering my burger of choice: The Elizabeth Shue. Elizabeth Shue, an American actress of Karate Kid and CSI, fame was conceived, so we were told, to be a burger which to stimulate and please all of the different taste areas of the tongue. To do this it contained an exciting mix of Proscuitto crudo, melted camembert, crispy onions, pickles, ketchup and bbq sauce. The sauces were chilled before serving and the result was a striking mix of hot and cold, salty and sweet, with the burger, medium rare, cooked to perfection. My friend got the more traditional Dolly Parton, which featured a double decker burger, double American cheese and bacon. This too was a great success. All the components of the burger were perfect and excellent quality. The only piece of constructive criticism that we both had was perhaps the buns could have been a bit more artisanal, but they certainly were fresh and did the job.
Each main meal comes with a side dish, of which you can choose fries in various forms (we got the Chili-infused and pun-friendly Sci-Fries) and there are also coleslaw and sweet potato options. I ordered the onion rings with my meal and they were possibly the most onion-tasting onion rings I’ve ever had – which is no bad thing. All portions were of a good size without being ridiculous or wasteful, and most burger+side meals were priced just under or over £10. This is definitely enough for one person, and we recommend getting two different sides which you can share. A great feature is that all of the burger options can come in either beef, chicken or veggie, so vegetarians are very well catered for, and the staff are happy to make any sort of adjustment to a particular order (I forwent my Camembert in favour of blander American cheese without incurring any judgemental glances). Atomic Burger do a great range of extra sauces for about a pound each. “Not Meaty” and “Meaty” were my favourite options.
Not wanting to be labelled a one trick restaurant, Atomic Burger also offers a wide range of Hot Dogs, such as the Dog Father and Dog Norris, all made with imported German Frankfurters. Desert, although slightly pricier than the main in terms of what you get at around £5, was another highlight. I got a Wookie Cookie Sundae, which was unusually generous in the amount of cookie, marshmallow and vanilla ice-cream it offered. Waffles and a DIY Marshmallow Chocolate Fondue were also appealing options. Drinks wise there was beer and wine on offer, and also, unusually, bottomless filter coffee for £2.50.
As you can probably tell, I hugely recommend Atomic Burger and both of us had a lovely time. It was definitely worth the trip down from St Anne’s, and if you can combine it with a gig or drinks with friends in one of Cowley’s many cool bars, then even better. Also to check out: Atomic Burger’s sister restaurant Atomic Pizza, a bit further on down Cowley Road. Always busy, book both in advance to avoid a wait.
Photo://The Tony Montana//Atomic Burger
Atomic Burger, Oxford
92 Cowley Rd, OX4 1JW